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Book Review – When the Serpent Bites by Nesly Clerge

I’ve been blogging since September 2011 and I’ve been on Instagram since December 2014. I don’t think it’s too big-headed to say that I’ve improved in both areas since then even if I’m still a bit shit at sticking to my schedules occasionally. In the last 7 years, I’ve managed to keep my online persona fairly secret and it’s only recently that people in my life started to find out about it. It kind of feels like I’m a superhero and everyone has suddenly seen through my secret identity. It’s weird to have it out there even though it’s still only a select group of people who know. It’s one thing to write for strangers (or nobody) but the idea of someone I see on a daily basis reading it… still can’t deal with that. I only bring this up because one of my work friends was so impressed with my Instagram following that she started talking about how much money I could make. I was super quick to shoot her down on this idea because I’m still a small fish in a fucking huge pond. Although, after spending years trying but never quite succeeding as much as I wanted to, I can’t deny that things are starting to change for the better. In the last few weeks I’ve been lucky enough to be approached by authors to get involved in marketing their books. You’ll be aware that earlier this month I was involved in the cover reveal of the upcoming Above the Stars book and I was also sent an advanced copy of Your Creative Career by Anna Sabino to share on Instagram. I realise that I still have some way to go before the big gun publishers would even think about approaching me but, as someone who is interested in getting into the marketing world, this is a fairly big deal. In keeping with this, two weeks ago I was given the opportunity to review the 2015 debut novel of writer Nesly Clerge. I said yes, because I’m not really in a position to turn these chances down, but I wasn’t sure this novel was going to be for me.
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Sunday Rundown – That’s What She Read

Last week I forgot to write a preamble before my post and I’m sorely tempted to leave it blank again. I always fail to come up with anything interesting to say here but feel that I need to lead into this rundown. Today my family and I celebrated Burns night a few days late so I’m exhausted and full of food. I don’t think this food coma is going to make reading before bed any easier. We do something most years because, no matter how much we appreciate ole Rabbie, we just bloody love haggis. I can’t believe that it’s still January. This month has been going on forever. Seriously, Christmas feels like it was years ago. Yet, I’ve still on managed to get up to my 4th book of 2018. That initial speed I experienced has seriously disappeared. I’m going to have to do better in February or I’ll do what I always do and slow to a snail’s pace. I’ve got so many books to get through. And as my book buying ban is having super questionable results it’s even more important that I get through some.

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Mary Shelley Retrospective – Let’s be frank, she’s not just a one-hit wonder

This January marked the 200th anniversary of the first publication of Frankenstein. Mary Shelley’s masterpiece of science-fiction and horror has, quite rightly, become something of a classic since she anonymously published the book in 1818. The book went through several different editions over the years but the 1818 is still, in my mind, the definitive version of the story. If only because it so closely resembles the story as it was first ever told. We all know the story of how Mary Shelley came up with Frankenstein and it is, in all probability, part of the reason the story has endured for so long. One Summer in 1816, Percy and Mary Shelley, Byron, and John Polidori all gathered at Byron’s villa Lake Geneva in Switzerland. They propose a writing competition to create horror stories to tell each other the next night. The idea for Frankenstein came to Mary Shelley in a waking dream:

I saw with shut eyes, but acute mental vision – I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life …

After some work and editing, the idea that Mary came up with that Summer in 1816 became one of the most important novels to come out of the Romantic period. After all, it has spurned a monstrous number of film and television adaptations and has inspired many more writers. Shelley is praised for her vivid imagination and modern thinking. She went far beyond the science of her day to imagine something that has withstood the test of time and changed the landscape of gothic horror. It’s a book that I have countless times now and have enjoyed more and more with every read. It featured in my both my Undergraduate coursework and my final Postgraduate dissertation. I bloody love this book and am happy to commemorate it’s 200th anniversary.

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Book Review – How Not To Be A Boy by Robert Webb

I always worry about reading people’s biographies. I’m sure that I’d find it riotously funny and agree with many of her points. However, I find the concept of reading about someone’s life to be an extremely complicated thing. At university I was very interested in the idea of a writer’s individual voice and how it changes. How can any piece of writing be an accurate portrayal of that person when it has been written for a specific purpose/audience? When it’s been edited and reworked before being deemed ready to print? You might be sitting there screaming internally “you’re really overthinking this you pretentious knob” and, to be honest, I am. Though it’s always something at the back of my mind. So I never really read celebrity biographies no matter how much I respect or adore the person writing them. However, last year that all changed when I couldn’t stop buying them. In the space of a few weeks I bought Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen, Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death and Jazz Chickens by Eddie Izzard and How Not to Be a Boy by Robert Webb. In an attempt to silence that inner voice telling me ‘it’s not their real voice’, I bought all three books on Audible as well as owning a physical copy. I hoped that hearing the writer speaking his own words would bring the whole experience together for me. Besides, all three of these men have distinctive and delightful voices that I definitely wouldn’t mind streaming into my ear holes.

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Book Review – The Power by Naomi Alderman

5_star_rating_system_3_and_a_half_stars I have owned The Power since April this year but have only just got round to reading it. At first I was as excited about the concept as everyone else but it also worried me. The idea that Naomi Alderman has taken conventional gender roles and flipped them was inevitably going to interest me. However, I thought there was too much potential for this to go down a violent road that I wasn’t that keen on. I’m happy to describe myself as a feminist and think the fight for gender equality is an important and difficult struggle. I just don’t agree with the kind of militant feminism that exists in certain quarters that believes anger is the answer. I understand there has been a somewhat violent and extreme nature to the feminist movement but times have moved on. We’re not going to get real gender equality with an “eye for an eye” attitude. We don’t need to teach men what we’ve been going through by doing it to them; we just need to teach men to be better. The only people that a more aggressive fight for women’s rights is helping are the so called “meninists” who like to make out feminists hate men.

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Sunday Rundown – That’s What She Read

Can you believe that we’re a week into 2018 already? I already feel myself becoming the ‘new me’. I’ve posted a record breaking 5 times this week and have got more than halfway through a book. I know! Who the fuck am I? I’m under no illusion that this greatness will last but I feel like making small resolutions that aren’t really resolutions is working better for me. It’s stuff like read more but only when you want to. Drink more water. Spend less. I’m not the kind of person who can just suddenly make major changes in their lifestyle. I’d never be able to wake up one day thinking “eating meat is a terrible strain on the environment” and just give up meat. I’d be craving chicken nuggets in no time. Secretly making trips to the supermarket to buy packets of sliced meat and eating them in dark alleyways to hide my shame. I’d need at least 2 months before I could even contemplate the idea of never eating steak again… and I so rarely eat steak. Ha ha ha! Rarely!? Steak!? Geddit? Nope? Okay, on with the business at hand.

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Book review – Autumn by Ali Smith

As we already know from this blog, I’m a hugely petty person. It’s a source of much mirth for my family that I watched the film Dunkirk simply to prove my sister’s boyfriend wrong about it. What can I say? He was wrong and I wasn’t about to let him get away with it. So, yeah, pretty petty. Therefore, it shouldn’t come as much of a shock that the only reason I finally decided to read Autumn by Ali Smith was due to my need to prove someone wrong. An account I follow on Instagram didn’t exactly react well to the news that Lincoln in the Bardo had won the Man Booker Prize last year. That, in itself, wasn’t enough to incense me despite the fact that I thought George Saunders was absolutely deserving of the prize. I get that Lincoln was a divisive book and understand why some people may not have enjoyed it. It’s not conventional literature and a lot of people prefer the safety of a traditional narrative. It was only when this person made the bold statement that Autumn was the only book that deserved to win that I couldn’t ignore it. I mean, how can anyone make such a bold and obstinate statement? I had to check it out for myself.

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Blog Update: The story of how one blogger intends to drag out her 30th birthday for an entire year

Today is the first of January and a traditional time for people to make promises that they have no intention of keeping. So it seems fitting that I lay out my plans for my blog because, chances are, my life will become so hectic again that I fail to live up to my promises. A common thread I’ve been coming back to on Instagram these days is one of setting goals. In that context it is mostly about TBRs and the negative impact they can have on your reading. I’m not the kind of person who likes to set herself reading goals because I don’t see reading as a competitive sport. I’m not active on my Goodreads account so maybe that explains my lack of drive. I just don’t see what the number of books you read in a year has to do with you as a person. Why do some feel the need to constantly brag about it? If anything, I’d find it suspicious if people were getting through too many books a year. I mean, how well can they be reading each individual book? What are they sacrificing in the rest of their life to give so much time over to reading? I work 9-10 hour shifts 5 days a week. I simply don’t have the time to read that much… or at least I don’t if I want to get enough sleep to be able to function at a physically demanding job. It’s something that has always confused me about certain members of the bookish community. It’s as if there are better readers than others and the only way to tell is by keeping a tally of the books they’ve read. This is bollocks.

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Monday Rundown – That’s What She Read

Despite the fact that I’ve posted a couple of new things recently, it may not have escaped your attention that I failed to stick to my upload schedule over Christmas. I hadn’t intended to take a week off but Christmas didn’t exactly go the way we planned this year. Nothing major happened but it was enough to ensure that I kept missing the days I would normally post so I just decided not to. I can’t say that my rundown from last week would have been very exciting as December was hardly a great book month. The only major things I really put off were my reviews of The Last Jedi and Autumn by Ali Smith. You can expect them this week though. Still, I managed to get in my annual Most Anticipated Books List for 2018 which you can read here. This year I also posted a list of my Top and Bottom reads for 2017. It’s not something that I’ve managed before but it felt easier picking this year.

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